There are many different kinds of psychologists, and they offer a variety of types of care. Some common forms of care used in bipolar treatment and recovery are:
- CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) – CBT is based on trying to change negative thought processes and patterns in order to help maintain a more stable mind-set.
- Mindfulness – The aim of mindfulness is partially to help the patient reconnect with themselves during times of panic (e.g. if social situations make someone panic then mindfulness techniques can be useful in calming them down).
- Interpersonal therapy – This is aimed at ensuring relationships are solid and a support network is firm. Psychologists are unable to prescribe or advise on medication.
A psychiatrist holds a medical licence and is therefore able to prescribe and advise on medication. They offer a more intensive form of care, and are often instrumental in the transition between hospital and care in the community. A psychiatrist is often consulted during the initial diagnosis period, and often will care for someone until they have reached long-term stability. Psychiatrists are also able to refer a patient onto psychologists or specialist teams etc.
In some areas there may be the possibility of reaching treatment under a specialist team. One example of such a team is an early intervention in psychosis service - sometimes referred to as EIIPS or EIP. This kind of team is trained in psychosis, and aimed at people usually between the ages of 14-35 who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis. They can offer a variety of types of care, from specialist psychiatrists to group therapy, and are often instrumental in recovery from a significant bipolar psychotic episode.
Some local medical services may offer the option of a crisis line for someone who is already under their care. This is usually a phone line operated outside of the usual opening hours of the team, and is manned by on duty professionals and people trained to handle emergency calls.
At times, more extreme episodes can require a stay in a psychiatric inpatient unit. This is not something to be apprehensive about, as hospital will provide a safe and secure environment for intensive care and observation. Stays are often fairly short, and the patient is discharged into community care, there is often a better idea of how to treat that individual patient.
Other Sources of Support
Outside of the medical world, there are other forms of help to aid in coping with bipolar disorder. Helplines (such as the Samaritans in the UK) can be vital in offering advice during a difficult period, or even just a friendly ear to talk to if you are feeling isolated or lonely.
There are also websites that can offer support such as 7cupsoftea, which provides a free 24h online service where you can connect with someone to talk to immediately. Please note, whilst these are valuable services, they are not trained medical professionals and any immediate and intense crisis should be directed to the relevant service.
It is essential that you seek help before an episode hits crisis point, as this will prevent longer term and more intense damage from occurring. If you feel you are becoming very unwell again then please consult a medical professional immediately, or take yourself to the nearest hospital. If you are unable to get to a hospital alone, or feel that it is too dangerous, then please either call someone immediately, or call the ambulance using your local emergency number.